• Sun, 17, Dec, 2017 - 5:00:AM

An Orphan's Christmas

It’s that time of the year. The time when families and friends are finishing up their end-of-year workload, wrapping the last of the gifts, and preparing to travel near and far to spend Christmas with their loved ones. Gone are the normal petty arguments that can derail most family get-togethers; instead there is a feeling of peace and goodwill to all (usually).

As for me, I will be celebrating the Orphan’s Christmas (I don’t mean an orphan in a Dickensian kind of way, where I have tragically lost my parents at a young age, and have been thrown to the will of the state care system, which in itself is unbelievably tragic and heartbreaking).

No, I am an orphan by choice.

It started about 25 years ago. I had moved overseas to pursue work, and the simple fact of distance, lack of funds for annual treks home to the bottom of the planet, and a new sense of adventure at my ever-widening horizons, meant that Christmas started to become an event that was celebrated with friends, rather than family.

And I’m totally OK with that.

Of course, there have been Christmases that I have come home to celebrate with family, but I can probably count those on one hand over the last quarter of a century, and after spending so many Christmases on my own terms, I must admit that doing the ‘family thing’ now feels weirder than not doing it.

When we moved to New Zealand fifteen years ago, we discovered a handful of new friends who also didn’t make plans with their families on Christmas Day, so we started our own tradition. We wake up late, do the present thing, and then all those that are flying solo, including ourselves, head off to yum cha and stuff ourselves with dumplings for Christmas lunch. We eat copious amounts of every kind of dumpling we can get our hands on, and then all go our separate ways to have an afternoon nap, followed by a movie later in the day (sometimes as a group again). And it’s awesome. There’s no stress, no drama, no arguments, no expectations. Just a day of friends, dumplings, wine, laughs, and a movie.

So consider an Orphan’s Christmas the next time that you’re not feeling the need to fulfil your familial festive season obligations. We’ll be the loud group at the table next to you ordering that extra large plate of dumplings.

Merry Christmas!


  • Christmas /
  • Orphans /
  • Festive Season /
  • Dumplings /
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